The second ghoulish murder-case for Houston's handsome, rich, neurotic cop Stuart Haydon (A Cold Mind, 1983)--with, again, the identity of the villains revealed to the reader almost from the beginning. The first corpse is that of photographer Wayne Powell, stabbed in his developing lab at the Langer Media Co. And it soon seems clear that Powell's death connects to his night-time freelance work as a duplicator of videotapes--many of which were apparently filmings of the most hideous real-life violence (from El Salvador atrocities), supplied to Powell by a creepy cameraman named Rick Toy. But who was Toy working for? Could it be a coincidence that Langer Media is owned by eccentric tycoon Josef Roeg, who just happens to have a mad, obsessive passion for watching violence? Above all: what was on one of those tapes--something beyond mere recording of Latin American horrors--that led to Powell's death. . . and to subsequent murders of everyone connected with cameraman/blackmailer Rick Toy? Haydon, though still in delicate mental condition from previous on-the-job horrors, does a steady, smart job of sleuthing--talking to Powell's colleagues (including a pathetic girlfriend who also winds up dead), to Roeg's henchmen (including a bitter, dying ex-employee). And the finale, featuring a double-psycho showdown between Toy and Roeg, reveals the not-too-surprising extent of Roeg's heinous kinkiness. Despite the lurid, somewhat farfetched premise: intense, often-absorbing detection/psychodrama-with the sort of textured, dark-edged narration that would work even better with less melodrama and more mystery.